Is King George VI in The King’s Speech a stand-in for each of us? I may not have his speech impediment but I’ve had impediments keeping me from my own voice. Working through my impediments I’ve discovered, as he did, that each of our voices need to be claimed, used and heard. Is this why The King’s Speech resonates for so many of us?
Bertie’s stammer was “blessed” with condescension by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He implied that the stammer and inability to speak in public was something the reluctant king would have to settle on living with. That’s not much different than hearing that your voice, imagination and intuition are diminished because you’re a woman, or gay, or a person of color or an immigrant….
Bertie and his wife refused to buy into that self-diminishment. A commoner and failed actor named Lionel Logue achieved what no other person had been able to do. He allowed Bertie, King George VI, to claim his voice and speech. The result was a leader whose new found voice inspired a nation and the world to defeat the Nazi’s. Claiming your own voice is no less important to the world.
There is no such thing as a “commoner” or “failed person” in the one who eggs us on to trust our voice and claim who we are. Is this part of the power of the role that Geoffrey Rush plays as Logue? No matter our perceived status, the world needs each voice – including yours and mine – because we are each a vital part of the story of what it means to be human and alive. Is this truth part of what we connect with in the roles played by Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter?
Those who nurtured and egged me on to claim that part of my voice as a gay man were my spiritual saviors. They knew that until I did so my own self would remain diminished and enclosed from life. Their help was different than the methods Logue used to have Bertie overcome his stammer in order for his voice to become free. But their encouragement, confrontation and support were no less of a life-line.
How do you react to the story of The King’s Speech inviting you to trust your voice? I’m reminded of the unexpected people who have been part of this journey of mine. You’ve probably had similar companions helping you to open the gate to whatever impediment or self-image enclosed you.
I was surprised at my strong emotional reaction to the Oscar awards that went to Colin Firth and The King’s Speech! It’s more than a beautiful story and powerful acting. It’s an invitation to trust that as much as the British people needed Bertie’s voice so your voice is needed by the world. It’s an invitation to remember that we need our own voice to be fully alive.
So how has this Oscar winning story had its way with you?
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